by ANNIE FELDKAMP '16
There comes a time when every Kroger’s has an aisle filled with hearts, candy, and stuffed animals. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, candy grams are signed and sent, the scent of roses perfume the air, and chocolates are sold in bulk. However, courtship and dating did not always consist of jewelry and fine restaurants. Since the dawn of time, romantics have invented unique techniques to catch the eye of their loved ones, from sweaty fruit to shrunken heads.
1. Take a honeymoon. In ancient times, bachelors would simply kidnap women from nearby towns. To ensure the legitimacy of the marriage, the couple would drink a honey-mixture called “metheglin” as the moon passed through its phases, hence the word “honeymoon.”
2. Go green. Amish couples were often quite discreet about relationships. Sometimes, relatives did not know about the marriage until even a day before the wedding. However, an easy giveaway was an increase of celery planted in the garden, as it was quite popular.
3. Cute cutlery never fails. Welsh couples of 17th century would carve intricate “love spoons” from a single piece of wood for their partners, including romantic phrases such as “I desire to settle down” or “Love grows.”
4. Bundle up! 16th and 17th century Americans and Europeans generously allowed lovers to share a bed – granted they were completely clothed and wrapped in several layers of sheets. To ensure the couple could not actually look at each other, a large board was placed between them for promise of a safe and exciting night.
5. Become a fan. In the Victorian era, fans were used to send subliminal messages to possible suitors. For example, if a lady held her fan over her right cheek, she was interested. If it was over her left cheek, the man knew to leave her alone. Slow fanning meant she was already taken and quick fanning that she was single and ready to mingle.
6. Be the apple of their armpit. Rural Austrian women of the 19th century energetically put on ritualistic dances for potential suitor— all while apples absorbed the sweat underneath their arms. The women then extended a sweaty slice to the man of their choosing after the dance was over. To accept, all he had to do was eat it and they were official.
7. File that smile. After reaching puberty, teens of the Hindu Balinese society undergo a tooth filing ritual by a Brahman priest. The mandatory filing of their upper canines is believed to rid them of any greed, lust, anger, jealousy, or intoxication.
8. Use your (enemy’s) head. Until the 1930s, the Atayal tribes of Taiwan would use severed heads from their battles to woo the women they loved. If the head was accepted, it would be placed in the open air on a small platform for everyone to see.
9. Handle with care. The Victorians favored quieter, less flashy proposals than the Atayal tribe. A man would present a woman with a pair of gloves, and if she accepted, she would wear the gloves to Sunday mass. This way, the rejection was a quieter and less disheartening affair.
10. Use your ring-sources. Instead of giving wedding rings, early Puritans would present their wives with thimbles. This way, she could not only use it to sew what she needed for life in a new home, she could cut off the top and use it as a practical wedding ring.
11. Go the extra 6 feet. During the 18th century in New England, a man would whisper flirtations to a woman from an appropriate distance. This meant speaking through a 6-foot long hollow tube while families remained in the room to make sure everyone stayed chaste.
12. Wrap it up. Dai people of China participate in an annual courtship called “visiting girls.” Young women would sit around a bonfire, spinning wheels. Men wrapped in red blankets would then choose a woman to serenade. If she liked him, she would pull another stool from under her skirt for him to sit on and he would wrap his blanket around her shoulders.